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Focusing on a Pension Fund Fix [AUDIO]

For months, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has been talking about the state’s growing pension debt, and how something fundamental must change in the system to safeguard Jersey’s fiscal future.

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Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address
Gov. Chris Christie delivers his budget address (Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

There is growing speculation that within the next few weeks, the governor will introduce a plan to create a hybrid pension system, where public sector workers would save a significant amount for retirement in a 401K type account.

FDU political science professor Peter Woolley believes it’s important for the future of the state, and Christie’s political future as a probable Presidential candidate to take action on the issue.

“Christie has to get Jersey’s fiscal house in order if he stands any chance of being a serious national candidate,” said Woolley, “he’s made a reputation as a fiscal conservative, and if he cannot succeed in New Jersey on fiscal matters he cannot succeed nationally – he’ll have no platform to stand on.”

Woolley pointed out the pension system in New Jersey is way behind in the money it needs to pay out in the future, and it’s probably only going to get worse without a very serious fix in the near term.

“It would be a coup for Christie to get serious pension reform in New Jersey,” he said. “Then he’s got something to brag about when he speaks to the country, and more specifically when he runs in caucuses and primaries in Iowa or New Hampshire.”

Woolley also said unions all over the country have objected to this kind of change and there’s no doubt they’ll object to it here.

“One big challenge will be for Christie to find a way to get the union leaders to allow new hires to go into this kind of system,” he said.

The bottom line, Woolley said, is that “if he can’t get New Jersey’s fiscal house in order then he can’t put a claim in on the White House.”

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